Food Pyramid changes for first time in 12 years

Pamela Egan Practical Practitioner


By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE



Food Pyramid changes for first time in 12 years



The U.S. Department of Agriculture is ordering Americans to cut and run!

The government is updating the old food pyramid and encouraging everyone to slash their calorie intake and exercise up to 90 minutes a day.

It marks the first revision to the pyramid in 12 years.

The guidelines urge Americans to choose whole grains over flour used in white bread or bagels, and to consume more whole vegetables and fruit.

Americans also are urged to avoid becoming couch potatoes by increasing their level of exercise between 30 and 90 minutes a day.

The guidelines are based on recommendations of a 13-member panel of scientists and doctors who spent nearly a year reviewing Americans’ diet and health.

The guidelines make it clear that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can fight obesity and help people lead longer, healthier lives. It is critically important now that a coordinated set of policy, marketing, business and communications strategies are developed to provide practical ways for Americans to reach these goals.

Key Recommendations for the General Population include:

Adequate Nutrients within Calorie Needs

  • Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans-fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.

Weight Management

  • To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.

  • To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

Physical Activity

  • Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

  • To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood; Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, on most days of the week.
  • To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adult; Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week.
  • To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity.
  • Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.

Food Groups that are Encouraged

  • Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference 2,000 calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.

  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
  • Consume three or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day.
  • Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.

This article was originally published January 24, 2005 in The St. Tammany News. > Health Articles > Health and Wellness